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A new UK manufacturing base for PPE
In the first few months of the pandemic, a Deloitte team worked closely with the government on a project to help boost the nation’s PPE resources at a critical time.
Against the backdrop of surging demand for PPE, the project helped create new supply chains to support the manufacture of billions of potentially life-saving PPE items – and deliver them to NHS staff in a matter of weeks.
In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of items of personal protective equipment – or PPE – were needed every day to help minimise risk to the nation’s health professionals.
To help equip frontline workers with safe-to-use PPE, a Deloitte team began work alongside the government in an effort to boost the nation’s resources.
Acting quickly, our shared aim was to create new supply chains that could help the government support the manufacture of billions of potentially life-saving PPE items – and deliver them to NHS staff in a matter of weeks.
Supporting frontline services
"The challenge was extraordinary in its scale and complexity” said lead partner Colin Terry.
“Our role was to do everything we could to support those working to deliver to frontline services who were working hard to save lives.”
To help, we quickly assembled a 50-strong, multi-disciplinary team that could support this vital part of the national response to COVID-19.
“Drawing on the skills in our firm and working alongside the Cabinet Office, Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS,” continued Colin “we had a goal to rapidly secure a worldwide supply of PPE and simultaneously establish a brand-new manufacturing base in the UK.”
Identifying the wide mix of skills needed, we brought together specialists in public procurement, life sciences, logistics, finance, medical appliances, PPE regulations, and health and safety to support civil servants and a range of government advisors.
Make, buy, distribute and re-use
We supported the government’s approach to increase PPE supply through a strategy of ‘Make, Buy, Distribute and Re-use’.
This involved working on a number of fronts to mobilise UK manufacturers while also making the most of the potential to source items and materials from around the world.
For example, while working with British manufacturers to support government work to produce PPE we also supported its work to:
- procure safe-to-use items from suppliers in the far east, working with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in Beijing
- explore options for safely re-using PPE, by helping to assemble a team capable of supporting the operation to assess decontamination techniques
- ensure fast, safe delivery for PPE items across air, road, rail and sea, straight to the UK distribution centre.
Following this strategy, collaborating with the government and civil servants, we supported the initiation of a UK-based manufacturing operation in just eight weeks.
Against the backdrop of surging demand for PPE and global lockdowns, the operation made and delivered millions of safe-to-use gowns, visors, facemasks and aprons at pace and at scale.
“All of us at Deloitte are incredibly proud of this work which has helped to strengthen the UK’s domestic supply of PPE, created stronger foreign supply chains and explored new uses for existing PPE items” said Colin.
“Most importantly, we’re proud to have helped get millions of PPE items to where they were needed during the pandemic, to help protect NHS workers – and laid the foundations to boost future supplies.”
How the Make, Buy, Distribute and Re-use approach worked in practice.
Make was the government’s strategy to encourage UK manufacturers to turn their hand to the manufacture of PPE.
We worked with potential UK manufacturers to support them through regulatory and testing processes to make sure newly-made PPE products conformed with medically-approved specifications.
We also supported government processes to review business cases for production and confirm that items could be delivered at pace and scale.
To help boost the procurement of PPE, our procurement specialists worked alongside the government to support a purchasing channel with FCO staff in the Beijing UK Embassy, due to the large-scale production already existing in China and the far east.
To support this newly established ‘buy’ channel – our logistics specialists helped the government deliver PPE items from the ‘factory gate’ to the NHS stockpile, providing operational support to track shipments and direct suppliers.
To support the government to better prepare for future COVID strains on PPE supply, we helped assess the potential for re-use of items of protective equipment.
This involved coordinating the activities of a technical group across government including policy makers, regulators and technical experts to assess decontamination techniques to enable the safe re-use of PPE.